Conjecture about Job and Career Trends Post the COVID-19 Pandemic

According to a survey conducted by a British research firm, Crosby Textor, the speculations about losing employment after the COVID-19 pandemic was the highest amongst Indians with 86 percent of them fearing that they will end up losing their jobs and their livelihood post this pandemic.

This ratio is quite in contrast with other countries like Britain where only 31 percent of the people had this fear, 33 percent in Australia, and 41 percent in the US, but, another country that had a reasonably high percentage was Hong Kong with 71 percent people fearing about losing their jobs.

With the estimated population of 138 crores, around 75 percent of the people or say about 100+ crore people are estimated to be in the working-age group that is usually calculated above 15 years.

Going by the vague definition of employment that takes in account any sort of paid work, formal or informal, including the salaried, daily wage and self-employed people, CMIE estimated about 40.4 crore Indians to be employed and 3.4 crore Indians to be unemployed in February 2020, prior to the coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown.

Two weeks into the lockdown, another report by the CMIE raised some alarming information with the drop in the number of employed citizens by 11.9 crore that means that the number of employed people fell from 40.4 crores to 28.5 crores within 2 weeks of the nationwide lockdown.

If we assume that even if 8 crore of the estimated 11.9 crore people who lost their jobs were the main earning member, then that implies that about one-third of the nation’s 25 crore households are going through a livelihood crisis.

And this livelihood crisis does not include the 3.4 crore people who were anyway unemployed before the pandemic hit, that means the employment situation of the country at the time is dismal.

To include a bigger picture including the sector-wise employment outside agriculture sector, 72 percent of the people are involved in construction, 14 percent are engaged in manufacturing and 12 percent are employed in other services.

Apart from that around 12 percent of the self-employed population is involved in trade, hotels and restaurants, 10 percent are engaged in manufacturing, 5 percent work in transport, storage and communication sectors while the remaining 4 percent are involved in other services.

Considering the regular salaried population, about 22 percent are involved in manufacturing, 14 percent work in trade, hotels and restaurants, 13 percent work in transport, storage and communications while the other 8 percent are engaged in finance, business and real estate, etc.

The unfortunate part about today’s pandemic situation is that unemployment is going to affect the jobs across industries, levels and geographies. Though the sectors like IT or ITES might not face such a huge loss in jobs the sectors like travel, tourism, aviation, hospitality, food, manufacturing and retail are more vulnerable to job losses in huge numbers. However, the impact on jobs is going to be universal.

The discussion can not just be confined to the impact of the tragic pandemic on the jobs and the livelihood because its impact is much more than that. The amount of human despair, despondency, dejection, and devastation of not only the dreams but the lives alike that have and will certainly increase with the persistence of this pandemic is beyond words.

The discussion is going to take in account the jobs and careers but more importantly, the changes that will be incurred in the depreciation of the economy, which is going to result in hunger, food scarcity, social unrest, homelessness and the struggle to combat the problems to sustain through and after this pandemic.

In the job market post, the pandemic will require both capability and capability to adjust to the changed dimensions of the work, which includes the work changes, workspace changes, compensation changes, work hours change.

Accenture has put together a report showing how the business organizations will make efforts to turn around the overwhelming and competing challenges caused by the pandemic to make it into their favour.

The technique to manoeuvre the uncertainty of the jobs and to navigate through the business insights will help in restructuring and reconfiguring the jobs to grow with time in the post-pandemic period.

According to Accenture, businesses will want to advance towards agility and will invest more in going digital and data-driven. The businesses will try to have more variable cost structure, supple operations and automation to build more sturdy capabilities in e-commerce and security.

The second change going by the report of Accenture will be the resilient workforce. As the dimensions of the work and the workspace will change, the workforce will be expected to be redefined their skills and redeployed to get the business back on track.

The restructuring and redefining of the workforce will be an effort to adjust to the skill profiles, creating platforms for faster learning and to simulate the future challenges and the human resources to level up in time.

The companies will lookout for new ways to connect to their customers digitally rather than in physical contact centres. They will come up with new ways to deliver their services to their customers and to support business continuity during the crisis and afterwards as well.

The need to reset the mindset is extremely important for the firms to sustain and thrive through this crisis and beyond. The firms are taking these changes caused by the pandemic to bring about changes in the way they design, communicate and run their business to meet the needs of their customers.

Also, the businesses will need to change their approach of taking decisions in the organization. They will need to empower the teams guided by a purpose, driven by digital data, backed up with technology and cloud services for faster transfer of data to the market.

The making of ‘intelligent enterprise’ will call for pulling down rigid top-down structures, distributing territory and control and creating a more transparent and flexible organization which will make the firms capable of self-management and incessant adaptation.

The need of the hour for the businesses is to sustain through the pandemic and the lockdown. It is quite obvious that the firms were thrown on with the challenges of short-term liquidity and also to take care of their costs and profits.

Now, that the pandemic has called for a change in the structure and dimension of the organization, it also requires funds to bring about those changes. The firms are facing inflated costs and plunging sales revenue that make the interventions in the key technologies and processes even more important.

The companies need to follow the rules of survival to keep their business alive in this pandemic and try to thrive and build on their businesses once the pandemic and the lockdown are done with. If a firm focusses on surviving in this pandemic, then that firm will have more chances of rebounding post the pandemic situation.

This pandemic can become a source of example to be better prepared in the future for such disruption in the businesses. The leaders will have to work on newer long-term strategies that will include real-time decision making, business continuity risks, workforce efficiency, security risks to lay a resilient foundation to protect the business and to keep it immune if any such interruption happens in the future.

This pandemic will surely help in learning and planning out strategies to maintain the integrity of the business in such crucial times of financial and economic crisis.

Though the impact of the pandemic is going to hit the businesses in all spheres, but there are certain industries that will hopefully incur less damage as compared to the others. These industries include IT and ITES, News & Entertainment, Finance and Banking, Pharma services, Online Education, to name the most hopeful ones.

Though there will be observant and evident changes in the structure and the services, the loss of jobs will be less. In sectors like IT and ITES, the jobs will most likely change to work-from-home mode with greater security of the data, but the overall jobs will stay intact.

The touchless and homebody services like broadband and online classes will largely survive through the pandemic because of their digital mode and will be the ones to thrive and rebound faster than the other jobs post this pandemic.

Discussed below are the major trends regarding the jobs, careers, workspaces, skills, redefining mindsets and the choices that lie ahead.

  1. Excruciating loss of employment: The lockdown imposed in the countries all across the world have resulted in deeply affected the businesses and keeping them homebound for a long duration of time. These disruptions in the businesses have given way to an unbalanced supply and demand ratio that has tousled the global production and the networks that were not built to absorb a shock of this extent. According to Bloomberg, either a 13 percent drop in the global merchandise trade, which is an optimistic ratio, will give a recession similar to the Great Recession that happened 12 years ago or the worst-case scenario of a drop of 32 percent that would rival the Great Depression of the 1930s. The optimistic scenario will give a contraction of 2.5 percent in the global GDP this year else the GDP could witness a decline of about 8.8 percent in the worst-case. All of these cases translate into the unforeseen job losses on a scale that was never thought of. The unfortunate thing is that people are going to have their jobs slip out of their hands and these could come in zoom firings, pink slip in the mails or even an informal WhatsApp goodbye.
  2. Salary reduction for the sustaining jobs: As the companies will try to sustain themselves during the pandemic, more people are going to lose their jobs and for the ones that are successful in retaining their jobs will be faced with slacked salaries. Some firms might put their employees on unpaid indefinite leave or might just put the newly hired employees on hold. According to a survey conducted by the Economictimes.com, around 39 percent of the participants said that they were facing a salary cut while about 15 percent were about to lose their jobs. Although 15 percent of the people who are going to have their salary slacked for more than 25%, almost 43 percent would still continue with their current jobs in spite of the salary reduction. The usual feeling among the respondents was that it is better to hold onto their current jobs even with salary reductions or salary freeze because the chances of getting a new job are very thin.
  3. Older employees are more at risk of losing their jobs: A fair and general policy followed by the HR should be to fire the new employees and keep the ones that have worked for longer for the firm. Though COVID-19 is an equal opportunity disease, but the perceived discriminatory practices seem to be getting amplified with the older employees being more vulnerable to losing their jobs. The companies have to spare more to pay the older employees because of their number of years of experience in the business, and as the pandemic asks for redefining and restructuring the workforce, older employees are more difficult to re-skill, retrain and upgrade.

Another category of employees that are at high risk of losing their jobs is the mid-level employees. The major chunk of the work of the mid-level employees is to manage the junior level employees, track work quality and train the new employees with their norms, but now the majority of their work is going to become automated which makes them more vulnerable than the senior-level employees to lose their jobs.

The new machine learning platforms are being built to help to train the employees and to check the workflow and the quality of work.

  1. Losing hope and willingness to compete or even live: With the disruptions in the jobs, livelihood and social lives of the people due to this pandemic caused by the catastrophic COVID-19 virus has led the mental peace of the people to be disturbed by the happenings. With more people losing their jobs and increasing unemployment, a lot of the families are facing a financial crisis and are giving up their hope of survival. It has been observed in the past pandemics that suicides are the most common mishappenings that occur in response to the psychological stress faced by the citizens in the wake of a pandemic. The pandemic calls for maintaining social distancing, which has caused a lot of people to feel lonely and isolated in such difficult times. The elderly are more sensitive to this feeling as they are strictly asked to stay isolated and homebound, leaving them with no social contact. The weakening of social bonds can cause anxiety and disrupt the normal lives of human beings, making the ones who are retired or have been laid-off worthless. Helplessness, isolation, social stigma, depression, loneliness, anxiety and frustrations all manifest the mental health issues.
  2. New joiners kept in the disguise of employment: Many of the students including the ones at the prime institutes like IITs, IIMs are losing their jobs at the hands of the desperate times caused by the global wide pandemic. For instance, Gartner, which is an American business research and advisory company, withdrew its job offers from 17 students across different IITs and IIMs. Another company, Schlumberger, world’s largest oilfield service provider company, wrote to the IITs that it has to either reduce the package or take back the job offers pertaining to the “sudden reduction in customer spend”. The joining dates are being postponed universally, and the new joiners are left in the hands of their fate of whether or not they will keep their promised job.
  3. Jobs that might involve the vulnerability to the disease will fall form favour: The jobs that require to go in the proximity of people like that of doctors, nurses, firefighters, police officers, delivery people, barbers, fast food workers, restaurant servers, waiters cashiers, dancers, choreographers, flight attendants, pilots, actors, singers, makeup artists, etc. are all going to be put on hold for some time as these jobs are the ones that will expose the people to the risk of getting infected by the disease.
  4. Frontline jobs to lose their charm: Most of the frontline jobs make the workers more vulnerable to getting infected by the disease. After the death of a 52-year-old police officer in Punjab recently, all the workers who are over the age of 55 years or have pre-existing medical conditions like hypertension, cardiac history, suppressed immune system have been stopped from being deployed on the frontline to look after their medical issues. In Maharashtra, 1671, police officers have been tested positive for the virus with 16 dead. With such news spreading the work of negligence of the safety of those working on the frontline has caused the highly coveted jobs in India like that of police have lost their charm.
  5. Entrepreneurs face vulnerability: The MSME sector in India employs over 110 million citizens, and the revenue generated by this sector contributes around 30 per cent to the nation’s GDP. With the decline in the growth of the revenue in this sector, many businesses are falling prey to the hard times and are struggling to survive in this pandemic. Therefore, the union minister of India, Nitin Gadkari has announced an Rs.10,000 crore ‘fund of funds’ for the higher credit rating MSMEs. With the continuation of the lockdown, the smaller businesses are facing existential problems, but it not just confined to the businesses, this is also going to affect the larger organized or unorganized workforce that works for these businesses. The process of setting up their own businesses in the future is going to be a lot harder, and very few will have the courage to take up entrepreneurship in these difficult times.
  6. Startups will vacillate: After watching the small and medium-sized businesses struggle in these hard times, the startups are either going to be pulled down, or if people wish to continue with them, there are higher chances that they will fail. The investors are pulling out their invested funds and calling off the term sheets because the potential market for startups is not stable and at high risk at the moment. Most of the startups do not have the funds to survive past September, and with investors fetching out their money of the startups, their chances of survival are rather slim.
  • Increased breaks for women in work from home jobs: The only positive thing that can be observed in this pandemic is the greater chances of women being employed in work from home jobs. More women will able to work from home as they will have flexible timings and can work according to their schedules. Most women suffer after maternity leaves to fit into their jobs along with handling their work at home and their babies, but with more jobs shifting to the work from home mode, women can now continue with building their careers from the comfort of their homes.
  • The informal economy is tattered: The informal workers earn their livelihood without the perks of a safety net, unlike the workers in the formal economy, who get legal and social protections. The informal workforce generally comprises of women and the self-employed occupants like domestic work, street vendors, garbage collection, etc. There are about 450 million workers in India that work in the informal sector, many of which are the migrants from the other states who came into big cities in search of jobs and the others who haven’t been able to come out of poverty ever since.
  • Gig jobs could bring an upsurge in the gig economy: The 9-to-5 jobs, freelancing and the task-based economy like the self-employed could result in an upsurge in the gig economy. The gig-economy based projects allow the service adopter to cut off the overhead costs and to pay according to the job done by the gig-worker, rather than giving a fixed salary. Gig economy allows the existence of task-ownership, convenience and flexibility to existing in the world.
  • Learning will turn digital: With the pandemic on its surge across the world, it will take a lot of time to restore normalcy and to bring the students back to physical classrooms. The virtual classroom has helped the teachers to continue teaching the kids without any interruptions in their schedule, and this will probably continue until it becomes safe for the students to return to their schools. The online courses and the EdTech startups are going to see an upsurge in their demand as more and more students turn to online learning. This will also make it possible to make job opportunities to reach people living in remote areas.
  • Entertainment and live performance industries suffer in this pandemic: With the people asked to follow social distancing everywhere to keep the virus at bay from them, the industries like entertainment, events organizing, wedding industry, sports industry, tourism etc. have been hit hard in the wake of the pandemic. Social distancing is going to keep these businesses in serious lassitude for quite some time. The jobs and the livelihoods of the people involved in these industries are going to be severely affected.
  • New doors open in the data literacy, data sciences, data analytics and data visualization: The pandemic has steeply increased the usage of data by as much as 38 per cent as shown by the statistics. Even though the job opportunities for the data engineers, data analysts and the data scientists were growing steadily, but with the increase in the usage of data in the wake of the pandemic, the demand of such professions is on a hike. The data analyzing jobs can work well with the work from a home mode with the required security parameters and thus is a huge opportunity field for the people who are thinking of changing their jobs and learning new skills.
  • Increased demand for going digital: With more and more services transforming themselves to fit in the digital world of future, the fields like machine learning, cloud computing, blockchain and cybersecurity are on a hike with more job opportunities coming their way. With the growth in digital services, these services are definitely going to grow and seek better opportunities than the rest of the services. The jobs in these fields will grow in number, and they are going to be paid well. You can learn the required skills to change into this sector because this is the most promising and well-paying sector during and after this pandemic.
  • Opportunities in Emotional Intelligence: As the people are suffering emotionally and financially in this pandemic all around the world, the jobs in the field of emotional intelligence is going to see a hike after the pandemic. Emotional intelligence basically includes the exchange of feedback, meeting short deadlines, dealing with complicated emotions and relationships, adapting to change and dealing with the setbacks and the failures, which are the requirements of these dreadful times. The jobs like logistics, counselling, qualitative research, tracking, etc. will soon increase for those who possess a higher emotional intelligence quotient than normal.
  • New horizons of work from home services: Now that people are not allowed to step out and gather around in the restaurant, barbershops, etc. the premium and unique services like health-certified home service providers like hair stylists, home chefs, masseurs, demand doctors etc. will come up in lieu of the businesses that were affected during the pandemic.
  • Manifold jobs to make ends meet: As the businesses shut and more people are losing their jobs or getting their salaries slacked, more people will have to take up manifold jobs to meet their daily requirements and to make their ends meet. The deep inequalities that persist in our economy are going to shine after the pandemic as some people will literally have to struggle for their survival. The people who have been rendered unemployed in this crisis will have to work day-in and day-out to make ends meet.
  • More workforce in smaller towns: As most of the people move to big cities in search of employment, these people moved back to their home towns after the government declared the nationwide lockdown in the wake of the pandemic. With most companies making their employees work from home, the greater workforce is going to sustain in the smaller town of the country. In fact, these smaller towns are less infected than the bigger cities like Delhi and Mumbai. With more companies spreading manpower in the smaller towns to make sure of the business continuity, it is expected that more opportunities might come up in the smaller towns.
  • Increased flextime jobs: With more and more people losing their jobs at the hands of the pandemic, unemployment along with underemployment is going to affect the people in large numbers. More people are going to face underemployment as more businesses shutting down or not working at their full capacity. Underemployment is going to become a very serious underlying issue of our economy.
  • Robots might work in lieu of humans: With the businesses and organizations going through digital transformation, it is possible that many jobs, especially in the medical field, might be overtaken by the robots. The robots are the best bets to serve patients who suffer from communicative diseases. This can certainly result in the jobs of the people on the frontline jobs.
  • Intra-country migration might slow down: As more countries are taking measures to prevent the people except for their residents from entering the country, the intra-country migration is expected to slow down as most of the countries will not give away visas that easy now. This pattern might continue for a few years as most people will need time to come back to normalcy and be able to afford to migrate to other countries.
  • Increased automation in the agricultural sector: As more people are avoiding to come in contact with other people and are practising social distancing, the agriculture sector is too going to see automation in the harvesting and transplanting factors. Social distancing might not be the sole reason for the shift to automation as most of the workers have also fled their migrant states and moved back to their hometown in this pandemic.
  • Rhythmic workplaces are the future: The workplaces that will be able to adapt to the fuel culture, boost morale and reinforce the team spirit are going to be the ‘new’ normal. As people come out of the experience of the pandemic, they will have to provide support to each other even at the workplace so that the economy can come back on the track without compromising on the mental health of the employees. A rhythmic workplace will be the one where you can practice flex space according to your personal as well as professional needs.

Though this is going to be a hard time for most of the people, we need to stand in support of each other and help each other to come out of the shell that we were forced to dwell in for the pandemic. We need to practice kindness to restore normalcy and to support life on this planet.

You need to be hopeful, and you need to realize that you are not alone in this ad everyone is together in this fight against the virus. You just need to hold on a little longer and practise new skills, and you’ll be good to go in the world post the coronavirus trauma.

 Source: Economic Times

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